The Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency laid groundwork Thursday to entice a shopping center, anchored by a Shopko store, into the Sugar House area, but not without first engaging in a political tiff.

The $31 million retail center could bring in 500 jobs, a $2 million annual payroll and increased economic development, developer James McGuire, of Clark Financial Corp., told the agency, whose board of directors is the City Council.But the city could carry a heavy burden itself under an initial proposal presented by McGuire that calls for a discount on land within the Sugar House redevelopment area and acquisition of 6.8 acres of city-owned land.

The Sugar House redevelopment area includes land in the vicinity of I-80 and 11th East and is divided into three geographic phases to be completed sequentially under the Sugar House redevelopment plan.

McGuire, in an initial proposal to the RDA, wanted land discounts available through the RDA in the form of land "write downs" and acquisition of city-owned acreage valued at an estimated $6 million, Councilwoman Roselyn Kirk said.

"I don't think we have ever subsidized an anchor for 20 to 30 percent," added Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck, referring to city and RDA contributions that could amount to one-third of the project's total cost.

What's more, Fonnesbeck objected to building the 369,000-square-foot retail center on Phase 3 land before completion of Phase 1 and 2 and without a verified change in market conditions defined in the redevelopment plan.

But Council Chairman W.M. "Willie" Stoler, who is running for re-election this year in the Sugar House district, said the city can't afford to keep Shopko waiting.

If the city doesn't act quickly so that Shopko can complete the facility by Oct, 1990, McGuire said, the retailer will go to another city, which he did not name. A council member, however, said that city is South Salt Lake.

"We've got a time constraint and we need to move on it," Stoler added.

The Redevelopment Agency struck a compromise, however, approving a motion permitting the city Planning Commission to advise it on the completion of Phase 3 of the redevelopment area and any possible zoning changes.

The motion also includes a provision that the RDA will consider offering the developer discounts by way of tax-increment financing. The RDA can offer discounts with money raised by taxing improvements made in redevelopment areas.

The agency, under the motion, will also consider condemning six properties where the retail center would be located that developers have been unable to acquire.

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Add advisory board?

Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency Chairwoman Florence Bittner has resisted pleas by city leaders to establish an RDA advisory board, saying Thursday, the RDA must be held accountable for its own actions.

While the RDA still has no formal advisory board, the agency did vote to permit the city's Planning Commission to advise it on development in parts of the Sugar House redevelopment area.